Movie Review - Spider-Man: Homecoming
By Matthew Huntley
July 17, 2017
As much as we all love superhero movies and still manage get a little giddy every time a new one comes out (which is just about every week), one of the side effects of their overabundance is the demystification of the heroes themselves. Because we now know so much about them and their worlds, the mystery and secrets surrounding their existence have been deflated, and it's up to the filmmakers, particularly the screenwriters, to develop a really strong script with an original plot in order to make us feel like we're not simply getting the same old story, lest our curiosity and interest wane.
Of course, the need for a strong script is only a good thing, but unfortunately for superhero movies, it's becoming more difficult and rare, which leaves entries like Spider-Man: Homecoming, an otherwise well made and high-spirited movie, as something that's only mildly pleasing instead of completely engaging. Perhaps it's unfair of me to ask so much from a genre picture when the reality is that there's going to be a lot more “average” superhero movies like this instead of more envelope-pushing ones like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 or Wonder Woman. But let's be honest, the studios make such a killing off these brands, it's okay for viewers to hold them to a standard. Ideally, they should all be envelope-pushing.
That's not say this latest Spider-Man is bad or even unenjoyable, but during the movie, as Spidey swung around, spun his web, battled his enemies, saved ordinary people from mortal danger - or when his alter ego, Peter Parker, struggled to find balance in his life as a 15-year-old high school student - I couldn't help but think I'd seen all this before and that I'd perhaps seen it done better. It pains me to write this since Spider-Man is such a charming and relatable hero, and like most people, he's one of the first that comes to mind when I think about superheroes. I mean, who wouldn't want to be Spider-Man? He's nerdy yet brilliant, powerful yet humble, timid yet brave. But just because we want to be him doesn't necessarily make him thrilling to watch, which happens to be the case here.
For the record, nothing about this production feels mailed in. The energy, performances, special effects and beats by director Jon Watts, particularly when it comes to the humor, are all there. It's the script that's the “problem,” so to speak, and it's not a bad script, but it does illustrate that Spider-Man: Homecoming is a victim of bad timing. It arrives not terribly long after Sam Raimi's original Spider-Man trilogy from the early 2000s, which are still fresh in people's memories (not to mention the good-but-not-great The Amazing Spider-Man films from the early 2010s), and while Homecoming wisely relinquishes re-telling Spidey's origin story (it assumes we already know who Spider-Man is and how he got his powers), the conflicts that Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland) face seem all too routine.